Train to the Promised Land (Utopias and Dystopias #3)


(I’ve been thinking about utopias in music this week. Many songs are about the journey and in many of them, you have to travel by train.)
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the cops have wooden legs, the bulldogs rubber teeth. The hens lay soft-boiled eggs. Burl Ives sings:

Big Rock Candy Mountain is the hobos’ paradise. All of the box cars are empty, the brakemen tip their hats, and the railway bulls are blind.
Bob Marley sings of the Soul Train, the Zion Train:
Curtis Mayfield tells people to get ready, there’s a train a-coming:

You don’t need no baggage to get on board Mayfield’s train. Mayfield’s brilliance is unmatched, but Rod Stewart is no slouch (nor is Jeff Beck):

Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s train is bound for glory where there is no Jim Crow. Unfortunately, it don’t carry no gamblers, no high flyers, or liars:
Bruce Springsteen ditches the Chevrolet and tells you to grab your ticket and your suitcase cause thunder’s rollin’ down the track:

Fortunately, this train carries saints and sinners, losers and winners, whores and gamblers, and lost souls. It brings them to where dreams are not thwarted and faith is reward.
 

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